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Rebellion Clinches Third Consecutive Pole

Menezes, Nato deliver for Rebellion in qualifying as Cool Racing leads LMP2…

Photo: Jose Bispo/JB Photo

Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato gave Rebellion Racing its third consecutive FIA World Endurance Championship pole position at Circuit of The Americas.

After entering qualifying with a new engine as a result of a blowout in Free Practice 2, the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson finished ahead of the two Toyota TS050 Hybrids with an average time of 1:47.530.

Menezes and Nato will share the car with Bruno Senna during Sunday’s six-hour race.

Toyota’s effort to challenge Rebellion was impacted by a red flag brought out with just under six minutes of the session remaining after the High Class Racing LMP2 Oreca stopped on-track.

This tightened the window in which the Japanese manufacturer’s second drivers could set their flying laps.

Brendon Hartley, who took over the No. 8 Toyota from Kazuki Nakajima, had his penultimate time deleted for running wide and breaching track limits at the penultimate turn.

This helped mike Conway in the No. 7 car to undercut Hartley by 1.3 seconds and put the championship-leading Toyota on the front row of the grid.

Conway and Jose Maria Lopez combined for an average time of 1:49.161 while Hartley and Nakajima, whose car has a slightly more advantageous handicap, posted a 1:49.431.

This meant Rebellion took pole by a commanding 1.631 seconds, which now stands as the largest qualifying gap between the Swiss team and Toyota so far this season.

LMP2 Pole-Sitter Half a Second Behind

Cool Racing became the first LMP2 team to claim multiples pole positions in the 2019-20 WEC as Antonin Borga and Nico Lapierre’s average time of 1:49.910 put the Swiss outfit fourth on the grid overall.

Lapierre was the second-fastest driver during the first set of runs with the Frenchman only being beaten by a flying Nyck de Vries in the Racing Team Nederland Oreca.

However, the 1:48.695 lap set by de Vries was negated by his Bronze-rated co-driver Frits van Eerd, while Borga was able to consolidate Lapierre’s effort for Cool Racing.

Borga was the fastest driver in the second set of runs, which gave the No. 42 Oreca the edge.

United Autosports qualified second courtesy of a 1:50.073 average time set by Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque, while Pierre Ragues and Thomas Laurent slotted into third for Signatech Alpine.

Ragues and Laurent will share the second row of the class grid with Will Stevens and Gabriel Aubry, whose Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca had an eventful session.

Stevens first lost his initial flying lap which prompted the team to switch in Aubry to set the car’s banker time, before Stevens was involved in an incident at Turn 1 later on.

The Englishman made contact with Anders Fjordbach’s High Class Racing Oreca heading into the tight left-hander but had already set his most competitive time.

Fjordbach and Kenta Yamashita qualified sixth, behind the JOTA Oreca of Roberto Gonzalez and Anthony Davidson.

The 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas gets underway Sunday at 12 p.m. local time.

RESULTS: Qualifying

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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